Sadly, when it comes to anime decent horror shows, unlike say, series about pre-pubescent mecha pilots and robotic maids, are few and far between. Sure, there have been one or two notable entries in the genre, Boogiepop Phantom and 3×3 Eyes immediately spring to mind, but by and large it is one of the most underrepresented genres in all of animedom. So it’s always nice to come across a series as promising as Requiem from the Darkness that not only manages to provide all the necessary chills and spills – not to mention blood and guts – fans expect from the genre, but also presents them in a way that is both creative and original.
The premise of Requiem from the Darkness is fairly unique. Taking place during Japan’s Edo era it follows an aspiring author named Momosuke who, tired of writing children’s riddles, sets out to complete work on his 100 Stories – a collection of spooky and grisly tales. He gets more than he bargained for, however, when he runs into the Mataichi Clan, a trio of “supernatural detectives” who bring to justice those whom have sinned against the living.
With the four episodes on this disc, Requiem from the Darkness quickly establishes itself as a series with a lot of potential. More an exploration of the darker side of human nature than a no holds barred gore fest, this is nevertheless a remarkably creepy effort made all the more impressive by its distinctly unconventional style and brilliant sense of atmosphere. The lack of giant demons and machete fetishists in hockey masks may concern some people, but a lot of the series’ most chilling moments come from the realisation that these abhorrent acts are being perpetrated by seemingly normal, albeit desperate, people.
Unfortunately, the series isn’t quite perfect, and there are a few minor problems that hold it back. My main grumble is with the short bursts of comedy dotted throughout each episode. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of comic relief, but when we’re dealing with a show like Requiem from the Darkness it feels embarrassingly out of place. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between, but still, one can’t help wondering how much more effective these four episodes could have been had they been left out altogether.
Nowadays few entries in the horror genre, be they anime or live action, can be considered truly original, but after seeing Requiem from the Darkness I think it is safe to say there’s hope for the genre yet. So, what is it that sets this series apart from the rest of the pack? Well for starters, Requiem from the Darkness isn’t about bogeymen and monsters but everyday people driven to commit acts of darkest evil. It’s an interesting premise and one that allows the show to explore some surprisingly dark and mature themes. Throw in some unexpected and deliciously devious twists, a bizarre cast of characters, and you have a series that no fan of horror, or mature anime for that matter, should miss.